Day Fifty-six, Date Saturday, April 25, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:09
Distance for the Day: 62.69 miles: From east of Ft. Stockton To Picnic Area on Hwy 290 N30 40.637’ W101 40.359’
Accumulated Trip Distance: 2410.8
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 2983’/2879’, Highest: 2985’, Accumulated: 1253’
Speeds: Avg: 8.7 mph, Max: 23.6 mph
There was some car activity on that side road, but not enough to bother me, much. I got up at 7, had M&Ms and a banana for first breakfast; I got down to 2-qts of Gatorade, but the next services were close enough to not be a worry. In fact, I seemed to be out of the dreaded “West Texas No Mans’ Lands,” and didn’t need to worry about running out of anything, anymore. How nice! The bird calls that woke me up this AM were pretty complex; lots of chirps, whistles, cheeps, craws, and various other calls – kind of like Texan mockingbirds. They were coming from these black birds with a long, shiny black tails (the Common Grackle). The weather was very balmy 63° but humid, and felt like Hawaii. My mattress must still have a very small leak, as it was somewhat deflated, but still comfortable after a night’s use – I suppose I can live with that. I checked my cell phone and saw that I got a voicemail from Walt T (in Austin), letting me know he was expecting me soon (great!) The sky was overcast, with pretty low, strato-cumulus gray clouds; a bit strange for Texas, but as long as it keeps the overall temperature low, I’m all for it; yesterday, when the sun came out, it got kinda warm. At almost 7:45 am, I got underway, and continued on down the road. Had the other half of my Subway sandwich for second breakfast at about 10 am, and stopped at a mini-mart, for drinks and supplies ($12).
At 12:25 pm, mile 2383.6, I got flat #10, my rear tire, thanks to the ubiquitous tiny steel slivers from steel-belted tire fragments off tractor trailer retreads. I continued on, and then at 2:15 pm, I got flat #11 which took about 52 minutes to fix. I replaced it with the Slime brand inner-tube that I got in El Paso. Slime tires have this green goo inside them that theoretically will fix any small punctures that may occur, automatically. I used my hand pump to fill it enough to ride on, but would need a compressor to bring it to where it should be at 70 psi. The closest town was Sheffield, so I took Exit 325 to go about five miles to get there. It was a bit of uphill work, but I made it quickly enough. Got a soda at the mini-mart ($2) and found the one working compressor in this small town to fill all three of my tires to their usual pressures, and continued on Hwy 290, the road through Sheffield, which was a loop that went from Hwy 10 to Sheffield, and then back to Hwy 10 in about another 20 miles.
Today was “Snake Day,” as I saw one 4’ long snake that had just gotten run over by a car on the road out of Sheffield. It wasn’t poisonous; I passed it by, but then turned back to put it out of its misery. By the time I got back to it, though, it was already dead. A mile or so down the road, I saw *another* shorter one, that was brick colored, and very much alive. I slowed down to take a good look at him, he saw me, and high-tailed it into the higher grass on the side of the road. Cool! The road turned out to be a tough one, rising almost a thousand feet over about 15 miles. When it came eventually got back to Hwy 10, it didn’t drop much, meaning, had I stayed on Hwy 10, it would have risen about the same amount, anyways. So, no matter which route I took, there would have been hill work. Anyways, when I reached near the top of the grade that evening, there was a nice picnic area that had potential as a camp site. I could even hang my hammock, so I stopped there, even though it was still a little early in the day, and took about 30 minutes to shave using my electric shaver that had only one working head. It was a long painful process cutting the long-ish hair that I let grow on my face (maybe 5/16” long), but got it done, with lots of pulling of short hairs (ouch!) by the semi-operational shaver. I then ate a dinner of trail mix and a banana, and hung my hammock, loaded it with the bivvy sack and mattress, but left out the sleeping bag, as it was still pretty warm, and wouldn’t need it this evening. At sunset, I hopped into my hammock, and the wind was blowing pretty good, and as the evening progressed, so did the wind. Mid-evening, a rude and possibly mildly drunk idiot behind the wheel of a 4WD truck passed by and laughed like a pirate and blew his horn to disturb my sleep, but I fooled him: I wasn’t asleep, and was well aware of his approach. A little later, he came back from the little back road that went past the picnic area, and evilly laughed more and whistled, still trying to disturb me. Twit. The wind turned ferocious, and pushed me into swinging in my hammock, which I didn’t really mind, but I didn’t seem to get one wink of sleep that night. Poop!